Posted by : David Guyll June 04, 2012

In a nutshell I basically agree with everything that Rodney says, here.

A few players in my group, including myself, were already negatively criticizing the pointless number-scaling in 4th Edition for quite awhile. After all if the characters gain bonuses at a set rate, and the monsters and skill DC's get increased at a set rate, then why have increases at all? Granted, it was not as bad as 3rd Edition, what with its various Base Attack Bonus and saving throw progressions, not to mention bucket-loads of bonus types, synergies, and potential for feat and/or magic item abuse, but I am still glad to see it all go.

It is because of this that I do not mind the game sort of going back to 3rd Edition's monster model, where ability scores and gear better informs what it can do; things like goblins and kobolds can remain a threat without having to tack on Hit Dice, class levels, or just ramping up the level, while things like ogres and owlbears can be encountered, tested, and run from without killing a character with a single lucky attack (the ogre in the playtest "only" dealt like, 2d4 + 4 damage). It will also be nice to be able to see what a monster is packing and make an accurate assessment as to what it can do.

The same thing goes for static skill DCs. 3rd Edition used this, but it was pretty easy to hit some DCs earlier than was expected (looking at you half-elf bard with a Diplomacy of 20+ at level 2). 4th Edition used a difficulty guideline to help you peg easy, medium, and hard challenges, but again it was pretty easy to get some insane numbers early on (most characters could get a +12 to +14 in a skill that they wanted to use with little effort). Next looks like a combination of 4th Edition's flat bonus and flexible application, and 3rd's static list. Curious to see how it all hashes out.

After two editions where magic items are assumed, skill bonuses tend to start at the +7 range or better, and everything automatically scaled in some fashion, I think that this is something that my players will need to take some getting used to. Overall I like this direction: ability scores have a greater impact overall, skills can be flexibly applied to more things, magic items will (ideally) feel more special, and NPCs can be useful without having absurd amounts of hit points, defenses, attack bonuses, and damage output.

{ 6 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I'm just glad that we solve the 3.x problem where the diversity of skill ranges in the party could be pretty immense. For example - it's a fight on the deck of a ship. The rogue has +25 balance and the cleric has -4. You have to choose between making it impossible for the rogue to fail or impossible for the cleric to succeed.

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  2. The damage, along with HPs, will still be adjusted by "level", so "higher level" monsters CAN kill with just a single strike.

    It will just be much more difficult that 4th to access what can become a TPK in my opinion.

    I also think they are too optimistic on the new venues of combat composition: there is a limit on how many monsters a party can fight satisfactorily; personally, i dont find its very interesting to fight 30 goblins on level 6, which on a hit automatically drop, but will damage-ping the party to death (and will require a damage roll for each, instead of the more sensible average damage of the minion-type monster of 4th Ed).

    The advantage of scalable numbers is that such bonus can be a normal upgrade (which is why a lot of rpgs systems use them); now, a +1 on ANYTHING is a big deal, which takes a LOT of potential benefits for advancement; either the developers are quite creative or they WILL run out of alternative advancement perks pretty quickly (and as more and more classes and races are added,the problem will compound).

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  3. One thing i forgot: its already been stated that very little treatment had been given to the monsters, which is probably why 'the ogre in the playtest "only" dealt like, 2d4 + 4 damage'.

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  4. That ogre pasted the wizard and the priest of Pelor. The goblins got the rest... TPK. I am actually loving the feel of this iteration, takes me back to 1e/2e despite some significant differences.

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  5. In a "normal" game I would not have done that. Instead I would have made it fairly clear that there were additional sentries and countermeasures in place, so they could make a more informed decision about going back in.

    I really just wanted to see how well they would stack up against a horde of monsters. :-)

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  6. I've been chewing on this Bounded Accuracy idea for a while. I still think I don't like it, and the reason I don't like it is that it seems to unnecessarily flatten the system in order to solve a problem we created for ourselves. We have a fetish with "level appropriate" encounters, and yes if you scale everything to the level of the players then everything will scale with the level of the players. We don't "get better" because we're never allowed to see anything that's too hard for us, and to later see the same thing when it's possible or even trivial. Flattening everything "solves" this problem, but now the system loses a lot of the range and variety it had. You can't have the scenario Philo Pharynx posits where the Cleric is jostled by the roll of the ship and the rogue waltzes through the mayhem, and I think that's unfortunate. A Rogue should be able to shine in places he excels.

    The only place I'm not sure of is the case of Combat. And the fact of the matter is I don't think we need "bounded accuracy" so much as a rational sense of what these bonuses are. For skills, you can get bonuses for being trained (skill ranks), being talented (attribute bonuses) and good equipment(magical or masterwork). You have the same sorts of things for hitting targets, but the worst numbers abuses are found in AC -- What does a +18 Natural Armor bonus mean? And why is that a reasonable thing to allow?

    I'm still chewing on this one and I don't know what the right fix is, but I'm pretty sure Bounded Accuracy isn't it...

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